Proposed bill raises questions of morality


The Iowa Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa.

Mollie Shultz

One bill in the Iowa Legislature was hotly debated and is now dead until the next session.

Last week, the members of the Iowa Senate got in a heated discussion over the proposed “Iowa Death With Dignity Act.” The bill is an attempt to imitate a similar Oregon bill that was passed in 1997.

The bill would allow terminally ill patients 18 and older who are mentally competent to end their lives by taking doses of lethal medication given by their physicians.

The bill would grant patients time to change their mind about receiving the medication, and patients have to make several requests to their physician during a set amount of time to ensure the termination of life is truly what they want.

Some legislators such as Sen. David Johnson, R-Ocheyedan, are opposed to the bill. 

“People who believe on the sanctity of human life, like me, are happy to see it go,” Johnson said.

Johnson firmly believes the bill goes against humanity and spreads a disturbing message. He said passing the bill would encourage people to believe “their life isn’t worth living.”

Johnson went into further detail, stating suicide rates in Oregon have risen since the bill was passed.

A total of 155 people received prescriptions in 2014, which increased to 218 in 2015, according to the 2015 data summary for the Oregon Death With Dignity Act. Other states that have passed a similar bill include California, Vermont and Washington.

Johnson also mentioned that other countries such as Belgium allow citizens to decide whether to end their lives.

Euthanasia cases in Belgium rose from 235 in 2003 to 1,807 in 2013, according to The Guardian. Belgium also passed a bill in 2014 that allowed terminally ill children, who are close to death, to decide to end their lives. The only difference with the children’s bill is that the children need the consent of their parents to go through with it.

Johnson believe these laws are wrong. He said no matter what the world calls it, whether euthanasia or mercy killing, “it is suicide.”

Colin Burczek, junior in journalism, thinks the bill should be passed to aid people who are suffering.

“If that person gives consent to stop their suffering, it’s definitely a more peaceful way to go out,” Burczek said.

Joanna Roberts, junior in psychology, was torn on the matter.

“I don’t really agree with suicide for anyone, regardless of what they’ve gone through,” Roberts said. “But, that’s kind of hard to be the judge of someone else when you don’t know what they’re going through.”

Roberts’ main concern about the bill revolves around the rise in suicide rates in some of the areas where similar bills have been passed.

“If there’s a correlation between suicide rates and this passing, that’s definitely a problem,” Roberts said.

While this bill may be put to rest for the remainder of this session, it will undoubtedly come up again, not only in Iowa, but in other states where the morality of the bill will again come under scrutiny.